The key to building community online is creating a website with simple navigation, interesting content, and a professional design. While some HOAs and COAs have created great websites, others have created dumpsites for information rather than a good-looking, well-functioning website. Whether your HOA or COA website needs an update or redesign, there are some Do’s and Don’ts you’ll want to employ to make your website the kind that people bookmark rather than boycott.
Let’s start with some website DON’Ts. Avoid the following when creating or revamping your HOA/COA website:
- Outdated information. One of the worse problems with websites in general is that of outdated information appearing anywhere on the site. With HOA and COA websites in particular, when board members and officers change, the website can often be the last to get (and post) the memo. Outdated information appearing on websites screams, “We don’t know what we’re doing!” HOA boards sometimes dont have a web expert to overview the site, which is why it is advisable to incorporate an easy-to-use admin feature in your website design.
- Clutter. Most of us deal with clutter every day in one way or another. The last place you want to experience clutter is on your community website. Clutter refers to both the problem of too much information crowding a page or an entire site and the bad habit of dumping everything from hyperlinks to text to graphics and animations on a single page.
- Cheap graphics. “Website visitors can sniff out generic photos in a second–and they’ll be left with a generic impression of your company,” warns Zane Schwarzlose, community relations director, Fahrenheit Marketing.” Eliminate cheezy images, outdated pics, or any clipart from your community association website.
- Awkward navigation. Getting lost most places is no fun, but to a homeowner trying to find dates for the next HOA meetings, getting lost on an HOA website is aggravating. When it is difficult to understand how to move around a website, then even the best of content dies in a secret cave where it has no effect on its intended audience.
Once your website is rid of these four plagues, then you can set your sight on creating a quality association presence on the web. Good HOA websites will follow these three creeds:
- Content is king. Make sure your HOA website consistently posts current, interesting content that is relevant and helpful to homeowners and other association stakeholders. The term content refers to both text and graphics. Consistency can be established by implementing a content schedule while feedback from website users can provide ideas for interesting and relevant content.
- Sharing is caring. A website is like a party in that it loses its effect when nobody shows up. Create opportunities (and reasons) for people to share content on your website by using social media links like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Invite people to engage in comments and share content so that your “party” can grow its influence and effectiveness.
- Organization is queen. Imagine walking into someone’s home and having to kick away shoes, kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and a few pets. Why would you want to take another step to see the rest of the space? The same applies in web design and organization of content. This can be the most challenging task in developing a community website. Companies like Vinteum Software create customized, seamless website navigation for community or management companies, using a simple self-service platform, allowing residents and board members to make on going adjustments.
Shalon Clevenger, HOA Management Consultant